Skip to main content
10:00 am
tonight at 10 p.m. eastern on booktv on c-span2. .. >> readings, everyone. it's good to see you here. thank you for coming out. i would like to begin with a very warm thanks to brian. where are you?
10:01 am
there he is back there. he has to lot to make this happen. also, thanks to end up for that generous and direction. i say we should also give a round of applause to the staff of this museum which keeps america's maritime heritage alive. [applause] no, i am happy to have a chance to talk with you this evening about a part of that maritime heritage which is not always included in american history of the cease. a lot to talk to about this book that i have written, the oldest of rebellion and begin by reminding everybody what happened in that story. just let me summarize what happened. the year is 1839, and this slave
10:02 am
the schooner, the on the spot at which in spanish means, kind of a cruel name for a slave ship, i think, contains 53 enslaved africans, 49 of them men and four children including three liberals. they are being carried from havana to another part of cuba where the sugar plantation system is just exploding. sugar is becky to cuba as one of the most dynamic slave societies of the world, so they're on their way on the coastal voyages of only about 300 miles. during that voyage a revolt that see takes place. the amistad ever gives rise up to kill a member of the crew of the amistad and then they kill the captain.
10:03 am
they take control of the ship with the idea of sailing back to their african homeland, which is sierra leone. they all come from southern sierra leone. they keep two of the accused is a live. these were actually there so-called owners. as it turns out, what had been a ship captain, so he new navigation. they told him, sailed toward the rising sun because the rising sun had been at their backs when they made the middle passage across to atlanta to the first place. well, he was a very clever man. touring the day he did sail to the east, as he was instructed, but he kept sales loose and floppy in the wind so as not to make it -- make too much progress in that night he
10:04 am
reversed course and headed back toward the caribbean and the north american coast in the hope that he would be discovered, there would be captured, and that he and his fellow cuban slave owner would be saved. so he tricked the amistad africans. eventually he saw that lacking food and water there were not going to be able to make a long voyage, and so it was asked, do you want me to take you to a free country. they said what free country? the three countries the united states. well, you're talking allow one of a leading slave societies of the world and 8039, not exactly a free country, but to make a long story short the africans sailed the vessel all the way up to the dollar and end of long island where there were taken by
10:05 am
a u.s. navy ship carried to the connecticut and thrown in jail charged with murder and piracy. now, as soon as word got out that these africans had come ashore abolitionists for up and down the eastern coasts flocked to the gel to try to assist them , thinking that this cause might help them to advance their struggle against the institution of slavery. well, a long legal battle took place. for 19 months the amistad africans were in jail. they did receive support from the less a person that john quincy adams, former president and that that time congressman who represented the 36 survivors before the united states supreme court and won a dramatic
10:06 am
victory. illegally enslaved and therefore freak enabling them to return to there native land, which they did eight months later in november 1841. they returned to southern sierra leone taking with them a written prayer group of missionaries who'd been created something called the men day mission. here we have an image of the ship itself. the amistad and the moment it to picks is the meeting with a group of white hunters of that northern end of long island. you can see and hear. yes, this is the amistad. that background this is that a naval vessel of the way to capture them.
10:07 am
this was probably produced by an abolitionist artist sometime after the actual voyage. what we have here is a very important case and the struggle against slavery because it was a victory. this kind of thing was not common. the institution of slavery was extremely strong. abolitionists and the slave africans one every significant victory in this case. okay. so, this subject has been much studied, and it has been well studied. you might be wondering why write a new book about it. well, my interest in this particular case grew out of the previous part that i wrote in talbot the slave ship, human history published in 2007. this was a pretty gruesome subject to study, i want to tell you.
10:08 am
very painful to see what was done to so many millions of africans in the pursuit of profits. the terror that was crucial to the management of people on board these vessels. i had to live with this for several years, and as i studied this ship, what i found was that there were a great many rebellions that grows out of the most extreme circumstances. it was really quite inspiring to see that the enslaved people kept fighting back, no matter what, you know they have almost a chance of success. many rebellions, very few successes. in the back of my mind is the amistad case. why was this were unsuccessful?
10:09 am
i really wanted to know. this was an extraordinary counterpoint to a gruesome history, and it captured my imagination. i began to read the work about the of a stud -- amistad, one of hundreds of slave revolts, 01 of the very few that actually achieved victory. what i found bothered me in this sense. there was very good scholarship of the case, but it was almost all about the legal struggle. a very puke -- very few people actually study the results and had actually wondered why it was successful in the first place. it seems to me as something important had been lost. it also seemed to me that in the process the real heroes of the
10:10 am
case, by that i mean the effort cancer risk their lives to gain freedom had been pushed aside and that politicians and judges and abolitionists had become the main players of the story. john quincy adams, featured here is, i think, a kind of iconic here wrote of the amistad case. i must tell you, he played an externally important role, but nothing happened without the actions of this man and those other 52 africans on board the vessel. theirs was the actions that said everything else in motion. so i wanted to return to that.
10:11 am
i also wanted to question what had seemed to me to become one of the main arguments about the amistad case. that was, it was a great success story about the american legal system. the fact that the supreme court could rule in their favor proved that the american legal system was the hero of the case alongside john quincy adams to which i ask, do you mean the same legal system that was holding to of a half million people in bondage at that moment? that is the hero of the story? i don't think so. i think we have to go back and look at the rebellion itself and especially to look at those africans who made the rebellion. so we have in both history and film is actually very good history from above, history that stresses the likes of john
10:12 am
quincy adams. but i want to do is write a different kind of history, what is called history from below. whose history is it? whose rebellion was it? what does it mean to us now? those are questions i wanted to pose. well, in the course of doing this research i must tell you this project was full of surprises. it is a story that everyone thinks they know, and that thought that i knew it too but it turns out, there were so many surprises, this put me in mind of a phrase formed by a very it would it american historian, lawrence levine, in which he talked about the unpredictable past. it is a great phrase. what i found was that the pastor of the amistad was extremely unpredictable, as to what i
10:13 am
would like to share with you today are some of the surprises. what were the surprises of doing this kind of research? the first surprise, and then some ways the biggest surprise and the one that made many subsequent surprise is possible has to do with the sources, the quantity and the quality of evidence about these africans who made the revolt. i spent 30 years studying slavers, enslaved africans, poor people who left almost no documents of their own, so i was trained to do this kind of work, try to write history from below. people who had been left out of most of the historical narrative .
10:14 am
the bus tell you, the body of evidence available about this case, i am convinced, is the richest of the deepest of any i have ever seen pump in the group of enslaved rebels anywhere. it is a staggering body of evidence. when i came to study their rebellion itself i wondered, are there 1-person accounts of it? it turns out, there are more than 70 first-person accounts of it told by 17 different people who sought. two sailors, two cuban slave holders, one cuban sailor, and 12 of the amistad african stole their version, and some of them told it more than once and told it at varying lengths .
10:15 am
seventy-eight counts of rebellion. this is extraordinary. an even bigger key, the amistad africans were held in jail, mostly in new haven, conn., for 19 months. starring those 19 months all kinds of people came into the jail to see them. you have to know, jails and 1839 were not like jails today. they were much more open institutions. the jailer, his main objective is to make money. guess what he did? he charged admission. people lined up in the thousands to pay admission and walked through the new haven jail to see or talk with the amistad africans.
10:16 am
they found translators, to african sailors who could translate. more about that in a moment. these people came into the jail the remarkable things. some took portraits. these risk as to buy a 17 year-old artist named william townsend. visa to of the very important players. this man here was probably the second most important figure among the amistad african. he was a very important figure in his native society in west africa. here is one of the children, a little girl who was about nine years old. she too will play a very significant role in this entire case and more about that in a moment as well. so artists draw their pictures.
10:17 am
correspondents conduct interviews. people write about the amistad africans at letters, published articles about the amistad africans in the newspapers . what this means is that there are a great many very detailed sources about who these people were and what they're lives will like. now let me just mention two other sets of sources which i found which proved to be especially important. i found a series of letters written by the teacher of the amistad africans. one of the things that happened was that the jail became a school room, and people learned, anguish, arithmetic, the study christianity. this was very important that they be taught the rudiments of christianity.
10:18 am
this teacher, i young man named samuel blue was an undergraduate student at university study of university who spent many hours each day with the august data africans, and in that time running a to their moment of departure to go back to africa he starts talking to them intensively about where they left into they were and what their lives were like back in africa because that information was going to be crucial to getting them back. he wrote a series of letters about this, some published in very small abolitionist publications, but they're full of rich details about the african lives of these people. that is one very important set of sources. this, you have to say, is the scholar's dream. we spend, folks, a lot of time showing up in our cars and
10:19 am
looking for this source of that source of being told well, that win burn down in 1916 that we don't have that anymore. sorry. well, in 1852, 13 years after the rebellion, a young woman named hannah more went from the united states to work in the mission in sierra leone, and and a holiday dinner where there were still maybe four or five of the amistad veterans living at the mission, she asked them to tell their story of the uprisings, and then she wrote in all the. so she transcribed their oral history of the rebellion, how they had committed it to memory. this is a stunning source, and it contains information that no other source of the time.
10:20 am
has. for example, about what was the debate downhole of the amistad when they were trying to decide whether to rise up and sees the ship or not. the oral history contained information about that discussion. that is really getting close to the source, and there you actually hear the voices of the people who made history. so, my point is, there is a huge amount of evidence for history from below, so much so that it is possible actually to get to know these people as individuals you can hear him speaking. you could get a sense of their sense of humor. it is a very intimate body of sources. that is the first surprise. the second surprise is not
10:21 am
really a surprise, but the fact that we get to study it is a surprise, the elder centrality of africa to this entire story. i wanted to pose the question, what is the big story here, but not just what happened in the court room. well, the big story is one of slavery and freedom, and it begins in southern sierra leone. my account begins by asking a very simple question. who were these people? who was people have made their revolt? where their lives like before they were enslaved? who were they? well, they were, first of all, a motley crew of at least ten different west african ethnicities or nationalities. they spoke probably 15 different
10:22 am
languages among themselves. the largest among them was called then day which is the largest kind of cultural group in southern sierra leone. about two-thirds of the amistad africans or from this group. there were three or four other groups including ten day, kono, bowling, and one or two people from other groups. basically they mean culture groups of seven sierra leone. want to get noticed is that they had an unusual capacity to communicate with each other. slave traders with frequently makes at this city's and nationalities of the people, human cargo, so as to prevent their cooperation. many people could speak the same
10:23 am
pilot. so there is that and there is the multilevel reality in which many of these people could speak three, four, and five languages. they were in a patient -- position to communicate with each other. this is a very important fact about making aerofoil a slave ship. to give you an idea of where they came from. senegal, this is freetown here is the american colony of liberia where some people of african descent were being repatriated, and here is what is called the killing this coast. limbo was the name of the slave trading fortress. here are the men day for the red , closer to the coast. it but this basically is the
10:24 am
region were almost all of them came from. now, what kind of experiences did they have? it turns out one of the most important things that all of the men killed all 49 of the men had in common, they were trained warriors. it turned out that southern sierra leone in the 1830's was wracked by warfare, apparently because this group in tandem with southern slave traders in this region have gone into the interior making more and capturing people to bring them back to the coast to sell, to be transported to places like cuba and brazil especially.
10:25 am
so understanding that these people were warriors helps you to see why they might have been successful in carrying off this rebellion that actually prove to be a very important fact. this is an image of a warrior from the same time. it says a warrior with poisoned arrows. i show you this image because the man around his neck has something better warriors in southern sierra leone frequently war. it contained a spiritually charged substances that would protect the warrior in battle. to give you an example of how this operated, one eyewitness said that he walked into court one day with us snuffbox on a ribbon around his neck. that person had no idea what he was looking at. he did not know that this was a
10:26 am
protective power of a warrior, but that is the way it played out. no the weapon of choice was not bowing narrow but the palace. they fought mostly with knives. so guess what they found on board the of a stop? they found a box of machetes or cane knives. this must have seemed like a gift from the ancestors. warriors are given knives? guess how they found them? always been one of the minor mysteries. it turns out, three little girls who were not chained and have free movement arose the ship found the box and told the men won their war, so the liberals played a very important role in
10:27 am
the successful revolt. going back to west africa for a moment, something that i learned about as, i think, being especially important was this. i want to know, what were the experiences of self organization that the people on the amistad would have had? will wear their models? it turns out one was especially important, this is an all male secret society, an equivalent for william -- women. very prominent among the groups of southern sierra leone. what they do is fundamental to the way in which those societies operate.
10:28 am
they train warriors. they create social discipline and deal with disputes. they deal with witchcraft. it declare war. they actually have a word or two words for the goal of the society in the way it operates. it was to create one word meaning easy. everybody agrees one word. we are unified in purpose. everybody is doing the same thing. the creation of social discipline. well, i've read a lot about the society's of this region. i learned a lot of what i came up against a dilemma, and it is
10:29 am
anyone who is initiated into it society is charged on pain of death, you must never reveal any of the secrets. hello my going to prove the importance of this society as a means of self organization if nobody is ever going to mention it? now, i was sure that in the whole of the amistad what you had basically was a displaced society meeting deciding whether to declare war, but i could not prove it. following this time i could not prove it. i finally found two pieces of evidence which convinced me that it really was a meeting. the first was actually written by a missionary when they returned back to southern sierra leone. this was a moment of truth because the africans are going
10:30 am
ashore, and many of their own people there to greet them. what the amistad africans began to do was to share their western clothing which upset the missionaries. this was the reversion to heathenism, their version to barbarism, licentiousness, awful, but it turns out that even they recognize something else was going on. they did not take up those clothes simply to defy the missionaries. they did it in order to show everybody their country marks, the ritual scarification is that they had which showed the which ethnic group they were a member of. this was important when you come back to sierra leone. but there were showing where
10:31 am
their markets. this society presided over this scarification and that that moment the missionaries began, for the first time, to understand the importance of african cultural forms. one of them wrote, these markets that they have, they are very important to them, very proud of them, badges of honor, part of their identity. well, yes, no kidding. yes, that is exactly who they were. and finally they saw it, so you could see the role of it in people's identity at this crucial moment. then the second piece of evidence, in an oral history as talking about the debate in the hold of the amistad, one of the people there said, who is for war.
10:32 am
it turns out, four of the men or not. so the debate broke out. an elder, being a very important figure, an old man stepped up and basically addressed those for men and said that they were very likely to die. see you want to die and honorable death fighting for freedom. they said yes. at that point the oral history says we had one word. one word, and that one word was war. so they even used the english translation. again, you see the society operating in whole of the vessel this is an important part of the african side of the story. the other thing that i thought was especially crucial was what happened in jail.
10:33 am
our emphasis on the court room not only blinded us to some extent to the rebellion but to what was happening in jail. what was happening in jail was that you had african rebels and american abolitionists meeting face-to-face and trying to figure out how to cooperate. this was an important moment. nothing quite like this had never happened before. they have to build an alliance if they're going to effectively fight the institutions of slavery. well, what i have identified as the crucial process among the africans was basically to go back to something that is frequently discussed in the slave trade, and i talked about this quite a bit. they have come up with a term called selective can share.
10:34 am
they create relationships of can and act as if they are related to people. this is going on on the slave ships. old systems had been shattered, creatively trying to build something new. this continued of the first slave ships, cuba, the amistad, en j-lo. one of the most impressive things you will see is the way in which this group of multi-ethnic africans hold themselves together as a group, unified, always pushing for there single objective which is, they said repeatedly, we want to go home. their idea of freedom was to resume the lives they had been sierra leone before their enslavement.
10:35 am
then, about one year into their experience something new happened, and i thought this was remarkable. they began to call themselves the men they people. they had heard people saying in jail, there is this powerful sovereign force called the american people. the source of all power in this republic. okay. were equals. they used this phrase to make their political demands, and even to instruct john quincy adams about what he was supposed to say to the great court when it came time for them to hear their case. so i, the second big surprise,
10:36 am
the african side of the story really matters. hal the rebellion happened and how these people organized themselves in jail. it made a huge difference. the third surprise, the third surprise is basically this, nothing that i've read about the amistad case could prepare me to understand how tremendously possible it was. i have already mentioned those groups of people lining of but going through jail paying admission. thousands, tens of thousands of people did that. 4,000 people a loan of the first day they were a new hearing tales. 4,000 people. it's extraordinary. but look what happened. artists common. you saw sketches.
10:37 am
one man came in and took castings and then created 29 life-size wax figures and assemble them at the moment of rebellion and charged admission for people to come see it. another artist drew up panorama painting that was 1305 feet long, more than twice as long as the amistad itself was. rolled into a giant can and charge admission. it shows how fascinated people were in this case. they wanted to know everything about it. no, this is all in the context of a northern society. there were violent mob attacks of free black communities, violet attacks on the home of
10:38 am
abolitionists, interracial churches. it's remarkable alongside these of the things that are very common in the 1830's. well, one of the most remarkable aspects was that a newspaper called the new york sun, a penny press paper took a tremendous interest in this case. and you kind of this peppermint for a broader part of the population. more expensive and usually brought by upper partisans to merchants, people involved in commerce. the penny press was for working people, especially in new york. so the editor of the new york
10:39 am
sun sense not only correspondence to new london and new haven but artists, and i want to show you what one produced. no, this is an amazing image. here is the poems of a heroic moment -- room and conquer with his machete in hand. he is like in the venture of justice. you have to put this in the context of most of the graphic representation of the people of african descent in this time or racist in the extreme. so this is a very different kind of image. i talked to a mother must have been some kind of underground radical abolitionist group.
10:40 am
no. the new york sun. they thought there would make money. guess what? did it. people could not give enough of the. alongside this, the reporters for writing in accounts of the rebellion there are very favorable, plausible, you might even say romantic. some of the early accounts are the elaborate descriptions of what a hero he is. this is really unusual. my point is that the amistad africans captured the imagination of popular culture in a way that made their case extremely unusual. the degree of popular interest in the case and argue in this book had an impact on the legal
10:41 am
decisions taken. at every step of the way nobody thought there are going to win any of these legal stations, and every judge who ruled in their favor acknowledge to the extraordinary popular interest in the case. how could they afford it? every time they came to trial the court room was crowded the suffocation. there were so many people pac-10 that no one would leave during a break for fear of losing their seats. the popularity of the case was very important to its outcome. finally, the biggest surprise of all, the biggest surprise of all is just how wild the improbable the whole thing is.
10:42 am
think about it. this motley crew of 53 africans somewhere in the northern caribbean draw upon their warrior skills and society background to launch a rebellion and seize ships. that is remarkable in its own right. the really while part of it is over the next two years that action that they took will cause the most powerful people in the world to debate the meaning of what they have done. the queen of spain, the british parliament. two united states presidents, supreme court justices, the american congress, the queen of england, they are all paying close attention to this debate.
10:43 am
what do we do about these africans who have taken courage in hand and seized their own freedom. well, their self emancipation, i want to suggest, had a lot of ripple effects around the atlantic in europe, africa, the caribbean, and america, especially in america where it has the impact of radicalizing the abolitionist movement. by that i mean more and more people began to recognize that the resistance of enslaved people was crucial. they began during that time of the rebellion to "anything this line from lord byron repeated again and began running away after the civil war. those who would be freed must
10:44 am
themselves strike the first blow in other words, action from below can be a trigger. this had a very dramatic impact a lot of leading african-american intellectuals. it had a big effect on the man named karen brown who wanted to start the first blow in harpers ferry. at a final thought to leave you with. one of the most roared above sayings about movements from the low is that they are unpredictable. you never know when they will rise. these demands for quality, demands for freedom, there are the predictable, and in there
10:45 am
and pray to ability i think there are also a great source of hope. take you very much. [applause] >> we have time for questions. i hope you have some. we would like you to speak into the microphone at possible. [inaudible question]
10:46 am
>> one reason you had to be able to move, come up and below. and the amistad africans were chained and there were chained together in large numbers. one of the questions has always been, how did they manage to get out of the chain's? well, i will tell you a fact about who they were as africans. two of them were blacksmiths. that will help.
10:47 am
basically they managed to break a padlock to free themselves, and that is what enabled them to come up on to the main deck and to begin the rebellion. you're right. a very good question about how people actually got free in order to reach. >> hello. i am fascinated by this idea of action from below serving as a trigger in am curious if you could discuss why you think the amistad rebellion captured the american imagination in a positive way it went rebellion and plantation captured american intention in a negative way. >> a great question. there were no positive depictions of nat turner in the media as far as i can tell or anyone else can tell. here is something about the amistad case that made it safer
10:48 am
for popular support. first of all, there were not african american slaves. there were africans. that mattered. it secondly, the slave owners were not american slave owners like john c. calhoun or others. there were cuban slave owners. that may it easier to vilify the cubans slave owners. so it is a little bit different, so it is a little this safer, but i would emphasize, that is not an easy distinction to maintain. in other words, i have never read about any american slave owner who would have liked to
10:49 am
see and it's like that. you don't glorify and lionize slave rebels. the spanish government pointed this out clearly. yes, you're going to say it is legal for these people to kill a white man, a figure of authority and capture a ship? all the slaves to america would be very interested to get this days. the do believe the fact that it came from outside the that states may it a little easier, but the other thing which really does matter is that this was a really very dramatic events. and what has struck me about the popular side of it is that they were interested in here these people were as africans, and there was some kind of as out a system that -- exoticism and
10:50 am
then. but on the end the provide -- rebellion itself wasg they wanted to know about. that is why the paintings, we have this which is actually in the engraving done by a connecticut artist. here you have antonio, the afro cuba and cabin boy, the captain being killed by four men. that was accurate. here was the ship's cook already dead. this is all done by people who had been in the jail in new his these africans work, so you can tell, right there, you can
10:51 am
recognize them. so the fact that you can kind of get close to the rebellion was very exciting to people. one thing i did not mention is that six days after the amistad africans came ashore in new london, conn., a play was being performed in new york about their uprising. and there was a hit. it was a hit in the theater that had a very large working-class audience, in black and white working-class audience, the bowery theater. thousands of people saw that play and learn about the rebellion, and in that play he is depicted as a hero. all these things are counterintuitive. that is part of why this project
10:52 am
was so surprising. that did not expect to see this level of not only popular interest, but a sympathy in it. a lot of people went to jail and said, he the abolitionists put support the africans. they're dangerous extremists, but we support these people that want them to be free. interesting that it expands the idea is of anti slavery the of the abolitionist community. yes. >> what happened to the slave owners after they came ashore? >> the slave owners came ashore and what was very interesting is that their demands were quite simple, give us our slaves back. there was a question raised from the very beginning that the slaves were not legal slaves because spain had signed a
10:53 am
treaty with great britain promising not to import any new slaves after 1835. so they queued slave owners have very cleverly given the almost got africans spanish names to try to represent them as having been already incorporated. well, that everyone could see was false. it was interesting to see. they stated connecticut trying for a while to get their property back, they're human property. and then something dramatic happened, a leading publishing this, once they found translators and the africans to tell their side of the story, he arranged to charge both slave owners with a violent assault based on beatings they had given these illegally enslaved people on board the ships.
10:54 am
so they both got slapped in jail this is a pretty dramatic moment , and especially in the south because they said, well, what happens to a southern master who goes north of his slaves? you going to slap him in jail? that's exactly of what he wanted to do. that's what it was a bounty on his head and the self. they eventually gave up and went on to cuba is the short answer, but they waged a battle, in the queen of spain carried on requesting reimbursement for the slaves all the way up through the civil war. >> what was the length of time from the rebellion until they got to new york and is that the first time that anyone who was not on the ship was aware of the situation? >> could question. the rebellion took place and they were at sea for about seven
10:55 am
weeks before they got to the upper end of long island. we know from the accounts of the voyage that they stopped 30 times, mostly to get water. they did not have enough water. we also know that the slave owner and the one who knew navigation wanted to take them to charleston, south carolina. that would have been a different outcome if they had gone to charleston. but here is something that is a revealing. when the amistad africans saw, and now go back to this release image which depicts it, you see it here. with they came ashore they were hungry, thirsty, but when they saw these white men who were hunters did not ask for food,
10:56 am
water. the first thing they said was, and this was one man who could speak a few words of english, it is this slavery country. an interesting political idea that some parts of this world were slavery countries in some parks were not. had they gone ashore and ask that question in south carolina, i don't know. basically they had no idea that they had to get to a place that was not slavery country in order to have a chance to be free. i think they're right about that i think this is a very important fact about how they eventually won. sailing 1400 miles far enough north. slavery was abolished in new york and cheered and exalted and
10:57 am
were thrilled that happy and so much so they scared the hunters they said, no, we are just happy it was really literally a case that they worked their way to freedom by sailing that should and getting to a place where they have a chance. after that what matters is the alliance they build with the abolitionists while in jail. >> is there kind of a media backlash amongst the seven states trying to promote their own ideas and seeing the popularity of the amistad of the north? does this lead to political ramifications where they are really pointing to the court and saying, they are not of their side, not like us and leading more toward the rebellion. >> a very good point and certainly true that the seven
10:58 am
newspapers are very, very voluble, a greek, and demanding literally from the very beginning that these africans be taken back to cuba immediately. unequally slave property and must be set back. no, what is interesting about the media backlash is that it turns out the other major penny press newspaper, the new york morning "herald", is rapidly pro-slavery. they also said the correspondence, and so you'll frequently find writing about the same offense in radically different ways. absolutely appalled by the popular interest in this case. they are actually worse than appalled, infuriated and just
10:59 am
screamed bloody murder. those people that you are touching part just cold-blooded murderers. a big kind of fierce debate and the fact that the debate goes on makes everyone else more interest in the bait. >> during the 19 months that they were jailed, how were the three little girls cared for? was there a special attention given to them? >> yes. i'm so glad you asked this question because i want to go back and show you what a difference history from below makes in the story. professor gibbs counting from one to ten. half of the story about five days after they had moved to new haven where one man says that three little girls were teaching several gentlemen how to count from one to ten in there native language. the best idea he had he got from
11:00 am
the three liberals. so they were in an unusual position, and they were actually the source of considerable conflict between the amistad africans in the jailers because what the jailor did was removed the girls to become his personal servants in his household coming back until you that they did not like it one bit, partly because it separated their collective. they wanted everyone together, but there was nothing that they could do about it because the tailor had power over them while they were in jail eventually it began to complain because the three little girls were not learning to speak english as well as the little boy who was their counterpart. there were blaming them the jailer for not contributing to their education
11:01 am
. whereupon the jailer and his wife made several racist comments about why we want to a kind of educate these monkeys anyway. so this became part of the tension, but the liberals were put into a different category, and then there was later on a very big battle over who should be there proper -- and should be in charge of their lives basically. ..
11:02 am
>> i believe the first female graduate of the college. and then went back to sierra leone as a missionary. most of the adult men were able to find their families. and actually, did what they wanted to do. they went back. they wanted to go back to their lives. there's a tragic counterpoint for sinca. when he went back to his village come he searched for his wife and three children, he discovered the village had been completed destroyed in the war for a continued after his own slavery. so it is true that the larger reality of war and slave trade was beyond his ability to control, even though his one
11:03 am
great victory, he lost his family. >> i had a question about the missionary. hopefully you can talk about how missionaries, whether not good embrace christianity or not. and i was interested in how well david michener's think they succeeded in converting these africans and in what ways did the africans use the teachings to further their own and? >> good question, thank you. i think the missionaries, including the most religious of the abolitionist, were properly realistic in same thing you the amistad africans are willing to study cristiani but they did not think that they had embraced it as a belief. maybe if you had, they hoped.
11:04 am
-- maybe a few had, they hope. but it turns out this is a really interesting and complex question because clearly that amistad africans recognize what was important to the abolitionists, and so their attitude was, you want us to study your language and your religion, we will do it. but at the same time we're going to insist on our own identity as a mandate people. so you could say that there after the identity grew as a counterpoint to this idea that they should be, civilized highest christians. now, all of these tensions were on display because once the supreme court ruled in their favor, and said they could go home, well, the supreme court also ruled the united states government had no responsibility to pay for their going home so how were they going to get home? well, ma for the longest time people believed that some
11:05 am
wealthy abolitionists would pay for this, but, in fact, what happened was the abolitionists with the cooperation of the amistad africans organize a big tour up and down the eastern seaboard in which the amistad africans would go and speak and perform, perform their knowledge of christianity, performed their knowledge of english, performed their civilization. and at the same time, they would insist on singing their native african songs. the african side was always there. and here's the wildest part of all. the main event and every one of these performances, and they all, by the way, performed before packetized -- houses. i mean, the common comment on these meetings, we could need
11:06 am
anybody -- everybody in who wanted to see. we're talking about churches to help sometimes two, 3000 people. the highlight of every event was when sinca rose to take the floor with him to tell the story, and literally to affect out the rebellion, and he spoke only his language. this is the way they were going to do it. and i can't tell you the number of people who comment, and they say come he is one of the most powerful orator as we have ever seen, even though we couldn't understand a word he was saying. but in not understand what he was saying, a different point was being made. we are mandate people. this is our language. we will speak in our language. this is our story. and that's what sinca did. and every one of these meetings,
11:07 am
he told his story in his language. it's a fascinating to see how this matter of a kind of christian identity and african identity are linked. [applause] >> thank you very much for coming out tonight. would like to invite you back for a reception here and mr. reichert will be back to sign any books. >> for more information visit the author's website, >> student ambient entries with your message to the president are now do. getting into c-span by this friday for your friday for chance at the grand prize of $5000 per to $50,000 in total prize. for more details go to
11:08 am
>> booktv is here at the annual national press club, author tonight. and joining us now is author arun chaudhary who has written a book called "first cameraman." what is your association with the obama campaign over at the obama administration and? >> in 2008 on the obama campaign i was personal videographer for the first to have years of the white house. this last cycle did not work on the campaign formally, or at the white house but i worked in the new and strange murky world of super pacs and packs an independent expenditures. >> talk to us about the campaign. how did you get hooked up with the president? >> there was an ad in craigslist and that's not the case. right place right time. a friend of mine was working at cnn as a documentary producer. that's kind of a more normal path into politics. as much as i was interested i was a filmmaker. not first and foremost on anyone's list.
11:09 am
she knew i was passionate and water to get involved and brought me. i headed off with the senator and started traveling inside the bubble. >> how long did you do it? was a 24/7 for a while? >> you know, essentially on the campaign it really felt like 24/7. i was technically living in chicago but i was there about two or three days a month. so it was pretty 24/7 budget scale back a bit at the white house because the president is someone who values things like having dinner with his daughters and family. at around dinnertime usually i could have really -- he would go off to do damage stuff and i would do the same. >> who has all the video? >> all the video is that the white house. it all goes into the archives, where none of it is allowed to be a race. according to presidential records act, anything has to be reserved for prosperity. so every time that the president says us whereby i can, every time i get something out of
11:10 am
focus, all of it goes into the archives and will be available to the public after the end of the obama administration. >> what about the campaign video? that is private? >> the dnc kept all the stuff for 2008. then give it back to the campaign when it reignited but now that the campaign is seemingly over, the president finished his last campaign, where that footage goes is for interesting. i'm hoping it is donated to the obama presidential library, whenever that starts to take form. i bet you it will. >> it is in "first cameraman" that arun chaudhary documents his experiences as the videographer for the president. >> here's a look at some books that are being published this week.
11:11 am
>> look for these times and bookstores this week and watch for the authors in a future on booktv and on >> we are here with the judge frederic block, author of an
11:12 am
inside look of a federal trial judge. you were brought on the court in 1994. >> correct. 1994 i was nominated by president clinton, recommended by senator moynihan. i've been here for last 18 and a half years. >> your sub telecom inside look at the life and work. getting a regular day in the courtroom. >> every other day in the court room, there's no such thing as record in the courtroom. we send people to jail but we do that about three or four times a week. we get our share of so-called high profile trials because we sit in new york city. i had the gotti trial, and light in new york city is a very dynamic type of judgeship because we really are pretty much with the action is at. i've had terrorist cases, you name it, we have had. >> how do you separate your professional life from your personal life?
11:13 am
>> well, i sort of like to believe i have an integrator have an integrated life. i'm a musician. i wrote this book for the first time at the tender age of 78. the reason i did that is because i really believe that we need more transparency about what the federal court justices do, are all about. the public doesn't have a lot of awareness or understanding of the whole trip was to be able to try to bridge that gap. will be an entertaining book and book at its same time people learn an awful lot about what we're all about, how we run our courts, how you become a federal court judge. there is a need for that. >> you sat on the bench for a long time. can you tell is one of your biggest cases because i've had a lot of them. of course, they're all in the book, right? i had the peter gotti trial which was a major case. i have the crown heights trial,
11:14 am
that was one of the profound race riots we had in history of new york city. i usually -- the bear stearns trials bear stearns trials for the two had guys were escorted, and i've had sentenced a terrorist person to death. i've had a trial involving a drug case a nuke city, the drug club scene, and on and on and on. i look back in my life. i can't believe that i actually had all these trials. but i feel very blessed to have the opportunity to preside over the court. >> talking with frederic block, author of "disrobed." thanks so much. >> thanks a lot. it's a pleasure. >> booktv continues now with diana furchtgott-roth. she takes a critical look at president obama's green jobs initiatives and argues that it hurts the economy. this is about 40 minutes. >> good afternoon. i'm vice president for policy research at the ma

Book TV
CSPAN January 13, 2013 10:00am-11:15am EST

Marcus Rediker Education. (2012) 'The Amistad Rebellion An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom.'

TOPIC FREQUENCY New York 8, Sierra Leone 7, Cuba 6, John Quincy Adams 5, Southern Sierra Leone 5, Spain 3, Amistad Africans 3, New York City 3, Leone 2, Frederic 2, West Africa 2, South Carolina 2, Charleston 2, Long Island 2, Africa 2, Becky 1, Lawrence Levine 1, William Townsend 1, Karen Brown 1, Clinton 1
Network CSPAN
Duration 01:15:00
Scanned in San Francisco, CA, USA
Source Comcast Cable
Tuner Channel 91 (627 MHz)
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 704
Pixel height 480
Sponsor Internet Archive
Audio/Visual sound, color

disc Borrow a DVD of this show
info Stream Only
Uploaded by
TV Archive
on 1/13/2013